NHBP Fields Dozens of Questions During MDHHS Panel

Food Sovereignty, Nutrition Programs Pique Interest of Health Professionals Across State

By Katie Halloran

What has become daily work for NHBP Team Members in Food Sovereignty and Nutrition was seen as groundbreaking and novel to many dietitians, clinicians and health and wellness coaches across Michigan during a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) presentation by NHBP.

According to NHBP, “The overall goal of food sovereignty is to educate tribal members on traditional ways of eating, hunting, gathering, preserving and preparing the food that brings tribes together.”

Having received a $60,000 grant from MDHSS through the Produce Prescription Pilot Program (P4) in 2023, the NHBP Food Sovereignty program purchased a tractor to operate on its Pine Creek Farms.

“We are very grateful for this grant money,” said Tribal Member and Food Sovereignty Coordinator Nickole Keith during her portion of the presentation. “Having this tractor onsite at the Farm enabled us to better take care of the land.”

MDHHS invited NHBP to present for a half hour at the second Annual Social Determinants of Health Summit on Thursday, January 25, 2024.

The NHBP team of Registered Dietitian Erin Stark, Community Health Outreach Manager Shelby Brueck and Keith presented on, Supporting Access to Traditional Food Through Nutrition Initiatives. More than 400 people were in virtual attendance for NHBP’s segment.

After a brief background from Brueck on the NHBP Tribe, NHBP presented an overview of its Food Sovereignty and Nutrition programs.

Keith spoke of how grants like the P4 Grant further support the Tribe’s initiative of providing jobs, all the while bringing back Culture and access to food.

“These funds enable us to provide that missing link of food for our Community.”

NHBP was one of only four federally recognized Tribes in Michigan to participate in this program last year. 

Stark presented on how NHBP has used general funding to support the Elders Farm Market Nutrition Program. This program provides $100 vouchers to one of three local farmers markets to Tribal Elders who register, all to increase Tribal Elders’ consumption of fruits and vegetables.

The audience chat responded to Stark’s presentation with several questions about program eligibility and of keen interest in how to begin their own programs with local farmers markets.

Stark also discussed Virtual Cooking Classes, Nutrition Programs and the Elders Meal Card Program. As Stark highlighted to the audience, these programs aren’t just derived from a standardized program, either; NHBP tailors all its events to fit the Cultural needs of the NHBP Community, many times with a special focus on its Elders.  

According to the MDHHS website, the goal of this Summit was to “create a space for collaboration and alignment with Michigan partners. We hope to learn from each other and strengthen our partnerships for a greater impact in community.”

In this vein, many participants were eager to learn from NHBP.

“Is there a class, playbook or guide on how to start a program like this?” asked one participant in the group online chat.

In response to NHBP’s presentation, other comments included the simple statement of, “This is beautiful.”

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